We are currently deep into summer blockbuster season so, with July fast approaching*, I thought I’d put together a brief top ten of the year so far*1.
Now, I’m sure there are a tonne of great movies I’ve missed, but these lists are never exhaustive, or comprehensive/conclusive. But, for what it’s worth, I do think there are some real crackers on this list!
Anyway, here goes . . .
10. Shaun the Sheep Movie – At ten we have Aardman’s latest stop motion extravaganza, Shaun the Sheep Movie, based on their immensely popular CBBC show. It’s the best family-friendly movie I’ve seen this year, and for good reason. Aardman are back on track after the less-than-stellar The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, in the process, proving that dialogue can ultimately be a hindrance to true universality. The gags are endless and the handmade animation is delightful.
9. Hot Girls Wanted – Next up is the Rashida Jones-produced amateur porn documentary, Hot Girls Wanted. Some have accused Jones and her two directors of editorialising, but I felt they offered a surprisingly even-handed insight into this particular subsection of the adult industry. Even-handed, but devastating . . .
8. Foxcatcher – Foxcatcher didn’t quite make the awards splash many thought it would, but I found myself consumed by Bennett Miller’s (director) Moneyball follow-up. And it’s not all down to the (admittedly fantastic) performances, Greig Fraser’s misty cinematography is breath-taking, as is E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s (writers) character work.
7. Unfriended – Unfriended delivered everything I could have hoped for from a late night screening. The tension’s there, in part due to the masterful technical prowess, and the whole thing rattles along brilliantly. I couldn’t take my eyes of it, even when the film gave me the chance to drift across the frame in my own time.
6. The Duke of Burgundy – The sexual adventure that should be stealing the headlines. Peter Strickland’s exploration into a fragile dom/sub relationship and the power-shifts inherent to such an arrangement makes for a fascinating watch.
5. A Most Violent Year (Full Review) – A Most Violent Year sees Oscar Isaac’s Abel Morales straight arrow (get it?) entrepreneur battling against a wave of rapidly encroaching criminality. In his measured storytelling, J. C. Chandor (writer-director) has crafted one of the 21st century’s most notable American crime epics.
4. John Wick (Full Review) – This slick American action movie throwback delivers a steely Keanu Reeves, killer action and an intriguing mythological under-pinning. Impeccably stylish throughout, John Wick is set for action movie stardom.
3. Whiplash – I left the cinema fist-pumping, ready for anything that life could throw at me. It was the same kind of unbridled enthusiasm that I’ve so rarely felt since The Phantom Menace blew my three-year-old mind. The second viewing didn’t hold up quite as well, but Whiplash is still one of this year’s very best!
2. Digging Up The Marrow (Full Review) – Digging Up The Marrow appeals to everything I love about Adam Green, and horror movies in general, for that matter. He treats this material with the same kind of reverence he treats all his work, but his exploration of 'The Marrow' stands out as the pinnacle of his career so far. I’m purposefully not covering anything plot-related because this is one dish best served cold. But, suffice to say, I absolutely loved it!
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (Full Review) – You may well have guessed it from my hyperbole-spouting review, but Mad Max: Fury Road is my favourite movie of the year so far. Muscular yet finessed, rigorously planned yet effortless, simple yet challenging; Fury Road is all things to everyone.
Well, that was fun! I’ve never felt like I’ve seen enough movies by the end of June to justify a list such as this. But, thirty-nine felt like enough to go from!
Until next time, folks!
*1UK releases between January 1st and June 30th, so that’s why Cannes is so under-represented